Trees as far as the eye can see. Photo: Evan Ferrari
Our vision for the northern boreal forest is a system of large interconnected areas that provide permanent protection for the region’s full range of natural and cultural values and features. Any development activities in this region must meet world-class resource management standards. They must provide long-term benefits to communities while retaining the intact natural character of this globally important boreal region.
An extensive system of interconnected protected areas must be designed using leading conservation science principles in combination with traditional ecological knowledge.
Only when we have adequately protected the full natural diversity and landscape functions of the region — including water sources, old-growth forests, habitat for sensitive species, and traditional use areas — can we identify areas where appropriately managed resource activities can take place. This protection will entail a commitment to complete community-based land use planning, including the establishment of an interconnected system of permanent protected areas. Community planning efforts must be nested within a comprehensive and coordinated approach at the landscape level.
Following the establishment of protected areas, any development activity to be considered in the northern boreal forest must meet or exceed the highest environmental, social, and ecological standards. All resource harvesting or extraction activities must be governed by community control and benefit agreements and be part of a long-term, coordinated land-use plan. These new priorities are all part of a new way of doing business that meets the needs of conservation and communities and that recognizes the global importance — and irreplaceable nature — of the northern boreal forest.
In short, we need to think big if we want to retain the very special character of one of the planet’s most significant remaining wild areas. In Ontario, we have a remarkable chance to do things right in the northern boreal forest and to show leadership to the rest of the world. Let’s step carefully.
Read about the Boreal Conservation Framework: a unique vision to safeguard Canada's Boreal Forest and a balanced approach to conservation and development as endorsed by an alliance of 11 groups representing conservation organizations, First Nations and industry.